Steps along the Irish Camino – from Wales with love
May you learn to be yourself
To be happy in your skin
To know where you are going
And learn from where you’ve been.
May your guide show you the true path
May your feet find solid ground
May your journey be eventful
And your way home be finally found.
After several false starts due to Covid restrictions I finally managed to make my way over to Ireland to join in Phil and Elaine’s first St Declan’s Way in August. This was closely followed with us bringing over a Journeying group from the UK in September for our Irish Camino.
Both were wonderful and varied Camino experiences and the people we walked with, talked with and shared meals with demonstrated what I love so much about Ireland: the warm welcome and, of course, the craic!
St Declan’s Way follows in footsteps of the saint as he travelled back to his home in Ardmore after a meeting with St Patrick in Cashel. Twenty five kilometres a day for five straight days led to a stiff knee and a few blisters on the feet, but much more important was the amazing sense of achievement as we reached the sea on Ardmore beach at the journey’s end. Walking on pilgrimage together is like no other experience I know. Leave all the arrangements to Phil, Br Phil and Elaine and just walk, surrounded by nature, your internal thoughts and the company of new friends who encourage and entertain you as you plod along.
The Irish Camino in partnership with Journeying was a very different but no less wonderful experience, with us driving to different locations across Ireland’s Ancient East from our base in Waterford. From the Mahon Falls in the Comeragh Mountains, Ardmore and Dunmore East, through to St Mullins, Ferns and Lismore, we saw so many places and met so many amazing and hospitable people who opened their hearts and homes to us.
Two places really stood out for me: the first was the Japanese Gardens in Tramore where members of the Island of Ireland Peace Choir played for us. The second was the 6th Century monastic settlement of Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains where Fr Michael Rodgers gave us a beautiful mystical guided tour.
I enjoyed these trips so much that we’ve already got a plan to do both again next year and if you’re considering coming with us, here are some of the comments that this year’s pilgrims sent us, to entice you a little further:
We had a really wonderful week and experienced so much thanks to you, Phil and Elaine. . . I’m really glad Journeying is adding Ireland again to the programmes and the creative connection with Waterford Camino is great. I continue to recommend it all highly to friends! Yvonne, England.
What an amazing week. Thank you for introducing me to your beautiful area around Waterford, to many lovely people but mostly for sharing your love, your story and your soul. It would be impossible to pick a highlight – beautiful mountains and coastlines, your mum, Elaine, reflections and blessings but for me it was music that lifted the week to another level. The joy of the cloisters and especially David piping with you, Phil, in the Japanese Garden will never be forgotten. You have provided wonderful memories and a springboard for a future lived in the ‘present’. Father Michael’s words ‘death is our destiny but we are called to live’ makes living each day a completely different and more sacred experience. Liz, England.
Thanks for organising such a wonderful coming together of Journeying and Waterford Camino. All the best as you work to bring the Celtic roots connections together. Isobel, Scotland.
The reflections were lovely, the places we went to spectacular, and then to bring to another level the music. I have met some very special people on this journey and the laughs we had at the dinner table most evenings was something else. Maria, Dublin.
Thank you Phil and Elaine for doing such a wonderful job in leading us along St. Declan’s Way. I really enjoyed every minute of my time spent with you all. Very well organised and we had no stress or anything to worry about. Accommodation, food and everything else was fantastic. Thanks also to Br Phil and lain for taking care of us. Thanks for a memorable week everyone and hope we can go on another walk in the near future. Pauline, Celbridge
It was a lovely week so well organised and I can imagine the organisation involved but like you said we all survived to tell a great story. So glad I did it thank you all again. Martina, Dublin.
Sincere thanks for a wonderful memorable week which I am only beginning to process at so many different levels. Your hard work and preparation paid off. Thanks to our fellow walkers who helped me along the way. A very special time. Lucy, Celbridge.
It was indeed a memorable week, the experience of a lifetime. Thanks to everyone who helped to make it so special. I will treasure it always. Anne, Celbridge
What a week, what a week, what a week, it was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. All your efforts paid off, it was exceptional. You got eighteen people across the line in Ardmore after 125km of walking from Cashel, all in one piece, that was such an achievement. I don’t need to mention anyone in particular, but all the people we met along the way were just fabulous personalities and so friendly, helpful and accommodating. The food and accommodation were excellent. Now I know that all of that was arranged by you Phil and Elaine. What a team you are. All your hard work paid off. May all your dreams come true. Mary, Drogheda.
And I’ll finish with a new Celtic Blessing, which came to me after the trip to Glendalough:
May the silence of the lough
speak to you
And the boughs of the tress
May the prayers of the saints
And the safety of the saints
With the silence of the lough
Special thanks to Iain Tweedale, Wales, for writing this month’s blog and to all who shared their reviews of their time with us. We welcome Iain too as team leader with Waterford Camino Tours and look forward to sharing the path with him in the years to come. Elaine and myself know that the Camino is only as good as the people we get to share it with. The last few months have been immense and we look forward to rolling out St. Declan’s Way and our Irish Camino Experience in association with Journeying going into 2022.